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Important Updates

2021 Exam Information

Updated April 8 Students can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare them for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

AP Computer Science A Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

The paper and the digital versions of the AP Computer Science A Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving students the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Computer Science A only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.

AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP Computer Science A Course and Exam Description (CED). Scoring guidelines for each of the sample free-response questions in the CED are also available. The Java Quick Reference (.pdf/358KB) lists the accessible methods from the Java library that may be included on the exam. The Java Quick Reference is included in the exam booklet.

Encourage your students to visit the AP Computer Science A student page for exam information.

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, students can try out the test-day experience by answering example questions in the digital testing application.  See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP Computer Science A students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (10 questions, 25 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a shortened free-response section (2 questions, 45 minutes). The time limits provide approximately the same time per question as the full exam.
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 1 free-response question.

We highly recommend all students take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if they can't take the Digital Practice, they at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. Students can access their answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override student answers from Digital Practice.  Teachers can also access digital practice from the teacher dashboard, available beginning April 22.

Taking the Digital Exam

Students should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that they’ll encounter—in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • The digital testing app provides an annotation tool. Students can use this tool to highlight important parts of the prompt, like parameters to ensure that they remember to use them in their solution, and the return value of the method to ensure that if necessary, they are returning the correct type of value.
  • Students will enter code for all FRQ responses. Hence, the interface will look different for AP CSA than it will for all other exams. Students can use the Tab key to indent their code for readability.
  • Some free-response question prompts reference a specific question part. Students can click on the » symbol shown in the prompt to automatically scroll to the referenced location.
  • The Java Quick Reference can be accessed with the Reference button in the upper right button bar of the application. The interface and layout are different in the digital testing application than in the paper exam booklet, so students should take a look when they take digital practice.
  • Students will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but students cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses
  • Students cannot go back to questions they’ve already answered, and cannot skip ahead. 
  • However, free-response questions 1, 3, and 4 will each be presented in multiple parts, and students will answer each part on a separate screen. They may move among the parts of the question currently being answered, with the Back and Next buttons. Once they’ve entered their response to the last part of a question, they won’t be able to go back to any part of that question. Question 2 is answered entirely on one screen.
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. Students will see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While students should read the directions, they should be aware that the timer will be running while they do so. Teachers and students can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

More information about taking digital exams is available in the Digital Testing Guide.

Digital Exam Readiness Dashboard

Beginning April 22, AP teachers and AP coordinators will have access to a new digital exam readiness dashboard. Teachers and coordinators will access the dashboard from their personalized AP login page (after signing in through AP Central or through myap.collegeboard.org). The dashboard can be used to monitor students’ progress in taking the steps necessary before and on exam day to enable them to take a digital exam. See details in the “Preparing for Digital AP Exams” section of the AP Digital Testing Guide.

Exam Dates

  • Event
    • THUR, MAY 6, 2021, 12 PM LOCAL

    AP Computer Science A Exam—Administration 1

    Paper, In School
    •  
  • Event
    • TUE, May 18, 2021, 4 PM EDT

    AP Computer Science A Exam—Administration 2

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  
  • Event
    • TUE, Jun 1, 2021, 4 PM EDT

    AP Computer Science A Exam—Administration 3

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  

Exam Format

The AP Computer Science A Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day.

Note on 2021 exams: Both the paper and digital versions of the AP Computer Science A Exam will be full-length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections, and cover the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Computer Science A only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Section I: Multiple Choice 

40 Questions | 1 Hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • The multiple-choice section includes mostly individual questions, occasionally with 1–2 sets of questions (2 questions per set).
  • Computational Thinking Practices 1, 2, 4, and 5 are all assessed in the multiple-choice section.

Section II: Free Response

4 Questions | 1 Hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • All free-response questions assess Computational Thinking Practice 3: Code Implementation, with the following focus
    • Question 1: Methods and Control Structures—Students will be asked to write program code to create objects of a class and call methods, and satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements.
    • Question 2: Classes—Students will be asked to write program code to define a new type by creating a class and satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements.
    • Question 3: Array/ArrayList—Students will be asked to write program code to satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements and create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 1D array or ArrayList objects.
    • Question 4: 2D Array—Students will be asked to write program code to satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements and create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 2D array objects.

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

The Java Quick Reference (.pdf/358KB) lists the accessible methods from the Java library that may be included on the exam. The Java Quick Reference is included in the exam booklet.

2021: Free-Response Questions

Questions

Free-Response Questions